What is push-bombing and how to combat it?

Cloud account takeover is undoubtedly a growing problem for organizations of different sizes. Consider your company’s sheer volume of work, where only a username and password are the gatekeepers. Employees are burdened with the task of logging into numerous systems and cloud apps, which can feel like a never-ending cycle.

Modern hackers use different methods to get those valuable login credentials. Their endgame? Gaining access to valuable business data, executing sophisticated attacks, and even unleashing insidious insider phishing emails.

Just how severe is this account breach threat?

Between 2019 and 2021, account takeover (ATO) experienced a whopping 307% surge.

Doesn’t MFA Stop Credential Breaches?

MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) is a go-to solution for countless organizations and individuals – and for good reason. It works as a shield against attackers who manage to snag usernames and passwords and has been protecting millions of cloud accounts for years.

But here’s the twist: the very effectiveness of MFA has ignited some sneaky workarounds by hackers. One of their primary tricks is called push-bombing.

How does Push Bombing work?

Users who activate MFA on their accounts will receive a code or authorization prompt on their device. They enter their login credentials, and the system sends an authorization request their way to complete the login.

The MFA code or approval request often arrives through a nifty little “push” message. Users can receive it in various ways: via SMS/text, a device popup, or an app notification. It’s all part of the normal multi-factor authentication experience; something users are quite familiar with.

Here come hackers, armed with the user’s credentials obtained through phishing or data breaches, who take advantage of this push notification process. They go on a login spree, bombarding the legitimate user with multiple push notifications, one after another, in quick succession.

What would you do if you suddenly started receiving unexpected codes you didn’t request? It’s easy to slip up and mistakenly click to grant access.


The goal of push bombing is to leave users puzzled, worn down and ultimately trick them into approving the MFA request, handing the hacker the keys to the kingdom. 

Woman sitting at a desk, frowning while looking at her cell phone

Ways to Combat Push-Bombing at Your Organization

Educate Employees

Empowering your employees through education is the key to safeguarding against push-bombing attacks. When users find themselves caught in the crosshairs of such an attack, it can be confusing and disruptive. With the right knowledge, your employees will know what to do (or what not to do).

Start by letting your employees know about push-bombing—what it is and how it operates. Equip them with the know-how so they know what to do if they receive MFA notifications they didn’t request. Awareness is the first line of defense!

You should also provide your staff with a seamless reporting mechanism for these attacks – such as emailing the Help Desk line if they notice something unusual. This enables your vigilant Protek-IT IT security team to sound the alarm and warn other users promptly. Together, we can take decisive action to fortify everyone’s credentials.

Reduce Business App “Sprawl”

On an average day, employees juggle a staggering 36 cloud-based services. That’s a whole lot of logins to manage! And here’s the kicker: the more logins there are, the higher the risk of a password falling into the wrong hands.

Take a moment to assess the app landscape in your company. Are there ways to bring some order to the chaos and reduce that app “sprawl”?

Platforms like Microsoft 365 are here to save the day, offering many tools neatly bundled behind one login. By streamlining your cloud environment, you not only enhance security but also boost productivity.

Adopt Phishing-Resistant MFA Solutions

You can stop push-bombing attempts by embracing a different sort of MFA. We’re talking about phishing-resistant MFA, an approach that adds an extra layer of protection

 Instead of relying on push notifications for approval, this type of Multi-Factor Authentication utilizes a device passkey or physical security key for authentication. Talk about leveling up!

Enforce Strong Password Policies

For hackers to bombard you with push notifications, they first need to get their hands on your login. Enforcing strong password policies, or better yet, using a Password Manager, helps reduce the chance that a password will get breached.

Here are some tried-and-true practices for creating solid passwords:

✅ Incorporate at least one upper-case and one lower-case letter

✅ Mix it up with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols for an extra layer of complexity

✅ Avoid using personal information when creating your password—it’s all about keeping it unique and hard to guess

✅ Store your passwords securely—lock them away in a safe digital vault, such as Keeper (included in our ProCare plans!)

✅ Never, and we mean never, reuse passwords across multiple accounts—each one deserves its own special treatment

Use an Advanced Identity Management Solution

Advanced identity management solutions combat push-bombing attacks by unifying logins via single sign-on. Users manage one login and MFA prompt, which helps enhance security.

Many businesses and nonprofit organizations leverage identity management for contextual login policies, which helps them secure access with even more flexibility. For example, automatic blocking guards against unauthorized logins by location or time, adapting to contextual factors to ensure not just anyone can try to hack into your account.

Elevate Your Identity & Access Security with Protek-IT, the Leading Managed Services Provider in Chicago

In this age of relentless cyber threats, more than relying on multi-factor authentication is encouraged. To safeguard your business against cloud breaches, you require a robust array of defense mechanisms.

Protek-IT, the industry’s top-tier Managed Services Provider based in Chicago, helps empower organizations like yours to fortify their identity and access security, ensuring comprehensive protection.

Are you searching for a trusted IT partner to bolster your access security? Give us a call today to schedule a consultation. Our experts are eager to understand your unique needs and provide intelligently tailored solutions. Together, we’ll safeguard your digital assets from every angle.

Take charge of your identity and access security with Protek-IT by your side today.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.